By Alan Shope, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -
School districts starting virtual online schools is a trend that's growing nationwide.
The districts say it helps students living in more rural areas get a quality education. But the Lawrence School district has noticed extremely low graduation rates and are ending their contract with the parent company.
With a graduation rate of just more than 26 percent, the Lawrence School District said it's time for change when it comes to their virtual high school.
Vicki Case is a huge fan of online schools.
"It's that flexibility to work at their own pace. When something is easy we can quickly through things and we can really focus on things that challenge them," she said.
Case's daughters represent two of the district's 1,500 online students but, according to the superintendent, the virtual high school is underperforming. The 26.3 percent graduation rate is a staggering number and one that pulls the other two brick and mortar high schools below the national average of 86 percent.
The online high school had been run by K12 Inc., the nation's largest charter school company. But the district has decided to take over the program themselves, they say to stay in better contact with the students.
"Tracking the highs and lows, their feelings about how we're doing and how we can help them better is what you have to do throughout the process and that's what we hope to accomplish as we begin the management of the grades nine through 12 program," said Keith Wilson, the principal of the Lawrence virtual school.
The Virtual high school has 329 students who are located all over the state of Kansas. The district hopes the change will get those students the help they need.
"Dropouts occur in brick and mortar, dropouts occur everywhere, but what are we doing to personalize their education and personalize our touch with them? You've got to stay in contact with families," Wilson said.
Case said she's looking forward to the district taking over the school.
"I really think that's going to be a good change, I think being able to bring the two schools together, kindergarten through eighth grade and the high school together, so that transition will be smoother I think," she said.
The school changes are immediate, although the district will continue to pay K12 Inc. ‘til the end of June.
The Lawrence School District has been operating the kindergarten through eighth grade program for 10 years. The last three years they'd been paying K12 Inc. to run the high school program.
Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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